Where Have I Been?

Where have I been? Well, most assuredly, not here at the Gumbo blog.  I haven’t written a scrap on the blog in months, save for a plea for mammon yesterday for needy kids. See yesterday’s post if you care to help.

I have no excuse. Nothing. Nada.

I write. I began a journal as a Lenten exercise.  I didn’t stop at the Resurrection. I have seventy odd pages in a secure place.

I am tutoring:  children and adults. I teach Spanish for gringos; English for others. I have foreign students, such as Japanese, French, and Brazilians.

Bubu, my German Shepherd, died this fall. He was old. No pain.

christmas-from-rosa
Rosa, my foster, is unhappy to sit still. She’d prefer to be chasing a tennis ball.

Now, I have a foster who may be adopted tomorrow. Rosa is a mature girl, 6 1/2 years old.  She’s active and happy. If the prospective family fails to take her, consider adopting Rosa.

If you don’t receive a Christmas card from me, consider this picture as your personal card.

I hope to write more about future plans in 2017. I am bored with the RWPs (rich white people) in the US. My self-imposed hermitage must end.

Adventure calls!

 

 

SHOETIME

shoes under tree.jpg

It’s SHOETIME!

PayPal link below is now working!

My former ministry in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is short on shoes for the upcoming school term in 2017. We need to buy 40 pairs of shoes minimum for our students. There are 50 students in total, but some have shoes donated thus far. Without regulation shoes such as pictured above, public school students are denied entrance into the classroom.

The new manager had a Honduran contact for shoes that fell through on their pledge to supply shoes. Therefore, I am proceeding rather quickly. There isn’t time to approach the board of my local church and wait for approval for funds to be directed there.

Donations need to be sent to me via PayPal, Facebook Messenger, or personal check. As always, I do not receive anything for my services. In fact I have purchased a few pair myself.

A gift of $20, $40, $100 or whatever you can afford helps us buy and ship shoes for the most vulnerable: children who need an education in one of the most impoverished and crime-ridden areas in Central America.

The Paypal link is paypal.me/LaurieMatherne.

Thank you on behalf of Honduran children.

A giving person will receive much in return

(Proverbs, The Bible).

What about decency?

Every week, I spend an hour, or two, or twelve walking on the grounds of nearby Fountainebleau State Park in Mandeville, Louisiana. It’s a wonderful place to walk, whether on the shores of the lake or among the mossy, live oaks.  The remains of an old sugar cane mill remind me that the place’s history is rooted in history, too. When the sugar planter died, he bequeathed the land as a public park.

At some point in the early 20 century, a large old-fashioned bathhouse was erected on the sandy northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  The state of Louisiana recently renovated the place to the original floor plan, complete with row upon row of semi-private changing rooms, shower stalls, and toilets. There are 2 wings, one for each gender.

It’s almost always empty. Who changes in privacy before using a public beach?  Why would men and women in our enlightened age need separate changing areas? Who cares if the family loads into the car with sand and mud clinging to their bottoms and feet?

Bathhouses are as anachronistic as the plantations themselves. I don’t know if I care about the bathhouses in particular. It’s the subject that comes to mind that I care about.

Decency.*

I am bothered by the utter lack of decency in the leader for the Republican ticket. He has no sense of decency in language, in actions, or the way he conducts the campaign. Whether it’s insulting a war veteran, speaking of a women’s menstrual cycle, laughing at a disabled person, or insulting entire ethnic and religious groups, he has no decency.

When the Israelites were a small confederation of tribes, the elders tell us that they asked God for a king. Loosely speaking, God said,  ‘Let me be your king.” God wanted them to not look to one man, but to keep the older tradition of judges, elders and prophets.

The people persisted. Saul was the first king. He was tall, good-looking, and a total failure. He led Israel’s sons into battle against their enemies and finally against each other. He died in suicide on the battlefield, a tragic figure in Biblical history.

Sometimes, we get what we ask for.

*My inspiration for this post that I spent all of 15 minutes composing came after reading Pastor Max Lucado’s column, Decency for President.

 

 

 

 

Drive-thru ashes

If you follow the Christian calendar, then you plan on attending church today. Or not. Increasingly drive-thru ashes are offered in the parking lot for the faithful who are too inconvenienced to step out of the car and walk into the sanctuary. The devoted may be infirm, cold, or otherwise unwilling to co-mingle with the congregants as Lent begins today.

In the past, my schoolmates, all Catholics, save for me and a few black Baptists, thought long and hard on Lenten obligations, more specifically on what they would give up for the 40 days leading to Easter. Some chose chocolate, or chewing gum, or candy. The zealous chose all three. Since I was Methodist, and in those days, Methodists were more like Baptists, we were free to continue our hedonistic practices. However, my mother has informed me her church now celebrates Lent, and indeed, drive-thru ashes are available at my childhood church. I don’t think she goes in for that sort of thing, as she likes to keep up her appearance. In her mostly Protestant social circle, most would think she’s just a nice old lady with a dirty forehead.

I celebrate Lent, but not religiously. What I meant to say is that some years I practice a form of spiritual self-discipline in these 40 days, and some years, nay. Also, I don’t like the word, religion. In my childhood, good Catholic children went to “religion,” meaning catechism classes after school. That was in middle school. It sounded beastly.

Actually, catechism was taught before regular public school classes when I was in elementary school. When the priest arrived, I had to leave the building as did my black Baptist schoolmates. Heathen were not allowed even to sit on the benches in the hall, even on cold mornings. When the priest pronounced the benediction, we were permitted  inside, or as sometime happened, the teachers forgot about the odd few students who had extra recess time, and we hung around until nearly lunchtime, when the lunch ladies saw us outside and scolded us to find our classes. 

I suppose today I could fire up the Hyundai, find a church, and get a smear on the head. I doubt if the priest, pastor or bishop would inquire if I completed catechism or was properly confirmed. They would be happy that I joined the line.

No fries, no ketchup. Just ashes. Next please.

One day, maybe tomorrow, I will write a bit about Mardi Gras. It’s not always evil, sinful or craven. Most times, it’s just an eclectic, eccentric, celebration of life. Like any holiday, one can take it out of context or celebrate to excess. No need for that. Just enjoy a bit of life before it passes by as quickly as the parades pass along St. Charles Street.

 

 

 

God, Guns and Glory

I started this as a Facebook comment early this morning. In a few short hours, I have to be at my desk at the Food Bank. So, I may have to add another post to clarify my thoughts.

Last night, I read an article in the Atlantic about Donald Trump evicting protestors in Vermont, and then, attempting to keep their coats away from them. Twice, he ordered the persons to be subjected to sub-freezing temperatures without their overgarments. The author noted Trump’s abuse of power, power he has achieved through popularity.

Why have most of us failed to predict his dangerous surge and continued popularity with the people of the United States? I think it’s more than middle-class frustration, as the TV commentators seem to suggest. It’s the subverting of US Christianity into a Gods, Guns, and Glory mentality.

Many Christians have been seduced away from the simple Gospel to a belief system of Gods, Guns, And Glory that equates patriotism on the same level as devotion to God. Even Christians can abandon their first love of God and love for neighbors and begin to believe in a message of hatred and violence, believing falsely that bigotry and violence serves the cause of Christ.

In so doing, they begin following hate-filled messengers. Trump, I still believe, has zero chance of being president. But what has he managed to do is blaze a path for a more viable demagogue in the future.

Fear was where I started in the Facebook post today. That’s where many Americans find themselves today. They find themselves quagmired by fear about the future, fear about declining wages, fear about rising medical costs, fear about increasing violence, fear about societal instability. Fear as I noted often leads to hatred.

I don’t see fear as a motivation in the four narratives of Jesus’ life as outlined in the Bible.  He was God on earth, the incarnation of God. If you read closely, he was apolitical. He was non-violent. He personified for us what God looks like.

That’s why I have a hard time identifying myself as a Christian these days. I am not a Christian who supports bigotry, hatred and fear. I suppose I am just a Christ-follower. I want no part of the Gods, Guns, and Glory fervor sweeping through the church today.

A Winter’s Tale: Mandeville, Louisiana

red berriesI walk with my dog nearly every day. We often head for a sparsely occupied business park that neighbors wooded areas. The weather has been unusually warm, so we see lots of color, some in-season and some out-of season. Yesterday, I was able to enjoy nature as my dog ran about among the empty fields and under-used buildings. There really is no dramatic tale for me to write, as nature itself provided the material. Feel free to interpret or insert your own dialogue. I concluded with another’s thoughts on the beauty around us.

azaleas

rain results

rose

Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that? St. Augustine. 

This post is linked to Sundays in My City, whose host is Unknown Mami.